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Medical studies in Poland, part II: Doctor’s Degree

Posted by Damian Novitzky on 24/09/2019
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If you’re reading this, you probably are not only interested in medical studies, but also you want to become a doctor! Well, if you belong to people who cannot imagine a career path other than helping others, a Doctor’s Degree should be the right choice for you. However, in the case of this type of studies, empathy and the desire to provide relief is not everything. The Doctor’s Degree is not only a prestigious field of medical studies but also tough and responsible one. But let’s see what it really looks like from the inside out!

The perfect candidate

What do you think when you hear the word “medicine”? Hours spent on books, long years of study, hard exams, no parties and little sleep? Sure, it’s all true. But if your ideas on this subject end only in this picture, you can let go of further considerations. However, if grateful smiles of people whose lives you managed to save and a massive sense of fulfilment are satisfying enough for you, I have good news; definitely, you have a vocation to the medical profession.

However, the vocation itself is not everything. Every year hundreds of students start their studies at medical universities in Poland. Only some of them finish their studies. Why? Because time verifies everything, and in case of preparation for such a responsible profession, it is absolute. And quite rightly so, because human life often depends on doctors. And here there is no time for mistakes or hesitations.

If you are going to apply for medical studies, you have to consider whether you have the mental dispositions necessary for the work of a doctor. You should know that this is one of the most responsible and challenging professions in the world. Future doctors should be not only great biologists and chemists but also psychologists. They must be able to communicate with the patient and his family, conduct an interview to recognize the symptoms of the disease, as well as cooperate with people and lead the team. Above all, however, the doctor should be able to examine the patient, make the right choice of examinations and diagnoses, and then effectively cure the patient.

It must also be prepared to react quickly and provide assistance in situations of a direct threat to life. Therefore, a candidate for a doctor should have high resistance to stress, be a determined and empathic person, and have the ability to maintain cold blood in any situation. There are difficult moments, like the death of a patient, which is why many doctors are building a defensive system within themselves. That’s why doctors are pretty often perceived as “cold” or “distanced” characters.

What does a medical degree look like?

In terms of recruitment, ss one of the most challenging fields of study, medicine boasts very high demands on its candidates. The subjects taken into account in the recruitment process are biology and chemistry, both at the extended level and sometimes even physics!

The most popular form of study is full-time studies. However, some medical universities offer extramural medical studies, but this type of education can be quite risky. What does this mean in practice? Mastering most of the theoretical material on your own, so that you can focus on practical activities during the meetings. These two modes of learning cannot have any differences in the curriculum so that the people who finish them have several medical qualifications.

Structure

Medical studies are uniform master’s studies lasting 6 years. They are general, the same for everyone, we do not specialize in the course. The first years are entirely theoretical – you will learn anatomy, histology, biochemistry and physiology. Clinical classes are introduced most often from the 3rd year onwards and take place in hospital wards. The second half of the studies take place almost entirely in the hospital. After each year, we have to take 4 weeks of vacation practice in the appropriate ward in any hospital. They are free of charge. After receiving the title of a doctor, you can take the Doctor’s Final Examination, the so-called LEK (Lekarski Egzamin Końcowy), the result of which is the basis for accepting us for a given specialization.

Before starting it, we have to do 13 months of paid (unfortunately very poorly) internship in the most important departments. The specialization can be done in various ways, the most popular of which is “the residential” mode. The Ministry of Health determines the number of places for a specific specialization in a given province and twice a year you can recruit. Due to the limited number of seats, getting into particular specialization is a miracle. Theoretically, specialization training lasts 5 or 6 years, few last even 4 years, but the average age of obtaining the title of a specialist in Poland is 36/37 years. 

Programme

The programme of studies in this field is exceptionally extensive and includes many specialist subjects that are necessary for future professional work. The main objective of the training of students is to prepare them for the provision of medical services. For this to happen, they need to learn the fundamental theories and principles of medical practice. The subjects that should not surprise anyone are above all: human anatomy and physiology, biochemistry and molecular biology, genetics or pathomorphology.

Students must master these fields entirely because, without their perfect and comprehensive knowledge, they cannot think about starting a future career. However, the most important thing is to systematize the experience gained by students. In general, medical subjects are divided into preclinical and clinical topics, which already include directional issues. For example, surgery, neurology, paediatrics and more.

The knowledge of medical graduates is exceptionally comprehensive, as it must include prevention, treatment and rehabilitation, which are essential for the pursuit of this profession. Excellent understanding of anatomy and physiology is crucial and vital. Besides, every graduate must have a wide range of qualifications in the field of genetic regulation of viruses and bacteria. As well as pathomorphology and pathophysiology, so that the diagnoses made by future doctors are as accurate as possible.

The range of skills available to graduates of medical faculties is also exceptionally extensive. Each person graduating from this faculty can collect medical history from the patient in a professional way. On its basis, it orders appropriate examinations, performs diagnostics and can introduce appropriate treatment methods. The skills of graduates of this field of study must go beyond their own specialization, to direct the patient to proper examinations, if necessary.

Efficient medical interventions, reading the results of laboratory, imaging and other tests, evaluation of health problems in terms of various influencing factors and promotion of health care – these are only a small part of the skills that each graduate of this faculty will gain.

Graduate

What does a student learn in a field such as medical studies? Regardless of the chosen specialization (which occurs only after a few years of research), a medical student is educated as a general practitioner. He or she is to be recognized not only in body structure but also in the most common diseases and illnesses. Students must also take part in obligatory internships in hospitals or other medical institutions every year. Their passing of the semester depends on it.

Graduates can choose one from many following specializations like Anaesthesiology and intensive care, Occupational medicine, Otorhinolaryngology, Children’s surgery, Emergency medicine, Pathomorphology, General surgery, Family medicine, Pediatrics and many more.

Work perspective

There is still a shortage of health care specialists in Poland, so medical graduates can apply for employment on exceptionally favourable terms. Statistics show that doctors are one of the most elite and respected professional groups. After graduation and obtaining a positive result from the LEK examination, you will be able to work in various health care institutions: a hospital, a medical clinic and a sanitary and epidemiological station, as well as perform essential functions related to the management of health care. Moreover, you will have the opportunity to work as a research and teaching employee in primary science institutions and clinics of medical universities.

Medical graduates are prepared to work in various types of private and public health care institutions. They will gain experience there and develop their careers. Moreover, every graduate can further improve his or her skills in research institutions and research and development centres – the scope of such work includes conducting various types of observations, analyses, research and publishing the results of his or her work in specialist scientific periodicals.

The graduates of doctor’s degree are prepared to start working in institutions that deal with the dissemination of knowledge in the field of pro-health education. What is more, each of the graduates is equipped with such skills that will allow them to conduct private medical practice, which in time may transform into a larger institution.

This post is also available in: Русский (Russian) Ukrainian (Ukrainian)

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